Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Food for thought

When nations grow old, the arts grow cold and commerce settles on every tree.
-William Blake, poet, engraver, and painter (1757-1827)

I think Blake meant 'old' in terms of non-renewal, a situation where the flow of fresh ideas dwindled or even dried up completely. This may happen when the Establishment grows too conservative or strong, killing off ideas by scepticism, scorn or lack of support, so that artists (or scientists for that matter) have to literally starve, leading them to abandon their work and find more mundane ways of earning a living.

Its symptoms may be seen when the only voices heard in public discourse are those of businessmen and perhaps politicians. Has this fate overtaken us? Perhaps. Open a newspaper or watch a programme on television, or listen to one on the radio. Where are the voices of academia or of other independent minds?


Dullness pervades our land,
The dunces are getting out of hand;
Alexander Pope saw it coming
The age of Chaos descending.

It is easier to love your enemy
Than consord with stupidity;
Wordsworth extolled the ordinary
And sank into inanity.

Don't traffic with the normal,
Chase the exceptional,
If you would soar into poetry,
Shun mediocrity.

Find your bedfellows
Away from the shallows;
Cultivate the eccentric virus
to nourish your genius.
This advice is not Christian;
But remember the ruffian
Who baited the dull Pharisee
In and out of Galilee.

-Guy Amirthanayagam-


Angel said...

Thought provoking...

Jack Point said...

Glad you liked it Angel.

Serendib_Isle said...

JP, I hear you.

I used to complain about the death of Tolstoys and Shakespeares until someone pointed out to me that they are here today in a different form: they are the JK Rowlings and John Grishams.

Its the evolution that takes place around us, without us noticing.

Newspapers are an aging medium and I’m sure the new age independent minds and academics are found right here in the digital arena... is it possible that you were looking in the wrong place..?

Just a thought.

Jack Point said...

Serendib, I was thinking more of the situation in the sunny isle than elsewhere, but you are right in that there is a lot taking place in the digital sphere.